Taken from A Patchwork Life: The Hands-On Guide To Living by Louise Silk

Available as an ebook: A Patchwork Life: The Hands-On Guide To Living 

It helps to remember that our practice is not about accomplishing anything – not about winning or losing – but about ceasing to struggle and relaxing as it is. That is what we are doing when we sit down to meditate. That attitude spreads into the rest of our lives.

Pema Chödrön 

Kine Ahora/No Evil Eye; 11”H X 11”W;
Hand Stitched Silk; Old Quilt Backing; 2020

In 1986, my husband and I used our inheritance from the sale of my father’s business to start a real estate company. By 1990, we found ourselves in a critical financial crisis which included the real possibility of losing our home. During the crisis, our twenty-three-year marriage ended, and I became a single parent. It was shocking and scary, the worst thing that had ever happened to me and the lowest point in my life.

On the quest for life solutions, I saw a program for a master’s degree in leadership. In some peculiar way, the description of their potential student sounded like me. It was a low-level commitment, meeting only twice a month, buying time until I figured out what came next.

In Leadership 101, I was introduced to self-leadership, the style of leadership where the leader instills in followers the skills to move on to lead themselves. I identified the self-leadership style in quilt-making and examined how well it functioned in the current movement. After two years of study, I understood that self-leadership was the key to my personal transformation. I created a website, a Facebook page, and a marketing campaign to become a profitable professional quilt maker.

Having met my childhood sweetheart in 9th grade and being married to him for twenty-three years meant that I had very limited experience in the romance department. Now being single, I was determined to have a date or maybe even two. Then on February 15th, standing by a Broadway stage door, I met an actor. He took my card and followed up by phone. We continued talking, communicating by email and a month later, he came to Pittsburgh to as he would say, lock eyeballs.

From then on, we were a couple, trans-versing North America as he performed. In 1999, he discovered he had an aggressive form of prostate cancer. He was forced to move to Pittsburgh for his treatment and remained with me until his death in 2005.

Our relationship brought me into a new realm of being. He encouraged the artist in me. He initiated my Zen practice. I felt loved and accepted, allowing the first inkling of my true self to emerge. Learn more in the book: Threads Volume 3: The Kismet Of Happenstance.

In the fall of 2000, we saw the model apartment at Southside Lofts on a fluke. When I walked outside onto the deck and saw the Cathedral of Learning, I knew this was the view I had been longing for, not to mention the huge wide-open living space. I drove around for 6 weeks before I asked my realtor cousin to look at it. She loved it, suggested buying the model and also the additional one adjacent. I would sell and then rent back our house to access the cash I needed for the purchase. By July of 2001, I was an owner and resident of a 2700 sq. ft. loft.

Published by SilkQuilt

Pittsburgh-based fiber artist, Louise Silk, creates art that combines aesthetics and functionality with meaning and memories. From the influence of a 1972 MS Magazine article to the current SILKDENIM label, her quilt experiences culminate in a display of her particular capacity to use her patchwork skills to piece together just about anything into an aesthetic meaningful whole.

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